The RSPCA says the main issues at this year’s Appleby Horse Fair* were dogs being left in hot cars and the over-working of horses, despite warnings ahead of the annual gypsy and traveller event.


The fair started on Thursday (6 June) and is winding down to its official end tomorrow (Thursday 11 June).


Four collie-type dogs were removed from the back of a pick-up truck on Friday afternoon (7 June). They were checked over by a vet and though they had slightly elevated temperatures were okay. A man was interviewed and accepted a caution. A collie-type dog was removed from a car in a car park on Sunday (8 June). The dog was checked over by a vet and had an elevated temperature but recovered quickly. A woman was interviewed and accepted a caution.


RSPCA chief inspector Rob Melloy said: “It’s so frustrating to keep repeating the same message over and over and to keep dealing with incidents that we’ve warned against. Very fortunately all of the dogs were okay. Never leave your dog in a vehicle, or anywhere else that can get hot, on a warm day.”


Ongoing cases picked up during the course of the event include a horse which was over-ridden to the point of exhaustion, something officers gave advice to individuals about. A man has been interviewed. A horse had to be put to sleep after failing to recover after being found collapsed. A donkey was found suffering from sarcoids, a skin condition. A kitten was handed to officers in an injured state and is receiving ongoing veterinary treatment. Two lurcher-type puppies were seized by police on welfare grounds and placed in RSPCA care. A man has been interviewed with a view to bringing a prosecution.


Chief inspector Melloy said: “As always with any event, there were a few people who came to the fair without any regard for animal welfare but, that said, it was a very good fair.


“We dealt with a similar number of incidents to last year, which was the most successful so far in terms of animal welfare, and the atmosphere was positive towards us and our colleagues from Redwings, World Horse Welfare, Blue Cross and The Donkey Sanctuary, who are a crucial part of the team there ensuring that animal welfare is top priority.


“The feedback from the education tent, where we were also joined by the British Horse Society for the first time, was also really good, with people approaching representatives from the charities and talking to us about their animals.”


The RSPCA dealt with 147 incidents this year and issued just three warnings compared to 142 incidents and 10 warnings last year. In 2012, the number of incidents was 192 and the number of warnings 38. In 2011 the figures were 346 and 17 and in 2010 they were 311 and 23.


The RSPCA is the lead animal welfare charity at the fair with 27 officers present but there were three vets, two specialist field officers and two professional drivers from Redwings, who also provided mobile stabling. World Horse Welfare sent four of its 16 UK-based field officers to assist. Blue Cross sent five members of its horse team while five horses who were removed during the event were taken into the charity’s care. The Donkey Sanctuary sent a vet, their Head of Welfare and a Donkey Welfare Advisor and are also caring for the suffering donkey who was removed.


“We work hand-in-hand with our colleagues from the other animal welfare organisations and couldn’t do this without them. A huge thanks must go to the other partners too though, in particular Cumbria Constabulary, with whom we have a very close working relationship with,” said chief inspector Melloy.


For further information on our partner charities involved in Appleby horse fair please visit:

Redwings –

World Horse Welfare –

The Donkey Sanctuary –

The Blue Cross –

The British Horse Society –


*Appleby Fair is unique in Europe and, as well as attracting around 10,000 Gypsies and Travellers, over 30,000 other visitors attend the fair, with Sunday being the traditional main visitors’ day. It transforms the town of Appleby for the week, as it normally has a population of around 2,500.


The fair has been in existence for at least 300 years, and probably longer. It is the largest horse fair in Britain and amongst the oldest in Europe.


The fair has a primary connection with Fair Hill, which is in the ownership of Appleby Town Council. Much of the horse dealing takes place at the crossroads by Fair Hill, and on the Sands by the River Eden, where nearby roads are closed for periods to allow horses to be shown and traded.


Multi Agency Strategic Co-ordinating Group (MASCG)


In October 2007, the Multi-Agency Strategic Co-ordinating Group (MASCG) was set up to bring together and co-ordinate the work of the key public agencies that have a regulatory role at the Fair.


The MASCG consists of representatives from the Gypsy and Traveller community, Eden District Council, Cumbria Constabulary, Cumbria County Council, Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service, Cumbria NHS, North West Ambulance Service, RSPCA, Environment Agency, South Lakeland District Council, Highways Agency and HMRC. The objective is to make the fair a safer and more enjoyable event for residents, Gypsies and Travellers and visitors.


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